The Horrors’ Faris Badwan is our World Cup columnist. In his second instalment of the campaign, he looks ahead to the week’s coming games, gives his analysis on England’s underwhelming 1-1 draw against USA and tells us where Fabio Capello is going wrong.
Hello again. Can’t say it’s been the best start to a World Cup I’ve witnessed but, ever the optimist, I’m looking forward to Italy vs Paraguay tonight and then on to Brazil and Spain’s opening games for some much needed flair and excitement.
So far, the best game I’ve seen in terms of inventive attacking play came from Germany vs Australia (June 13). The Germans are typically well-organised, functional, hard-working and deserving of other chronically boring adjectives often pinned on footballing sides bereft of all flair. To confound the stereotype, step forward Mesut Ozil, star of the youngest German squad in nearly 80 years.
Many Gunners fans will be familiar with Ozil’s name, Arsene Wenger having first batted his sultry French eyelashes in the 21-year-old’s direction some six months ago. Ozil’s sparkling passing display in yesterday’s 4-0 victory will no doubt have increased his value significantly and perhaps even beyond the reach of most Premier League sides, let alone Arsenal who have a far more pressing need for defensive reinforcement.
Watching Germany’s opening game made me painfully aware of England’s failings as they showed all the qualities I covet as a supporter: technical ability, assurance in defence, guile in attack, and above all strong possession play. Without a holding midfielder against the USA, England lacked bite and the ability to keep the ball for more than three passes at a time. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan were allowed too much space to run at the defence and a better striker than Altidore would have ended Rob Green’s England career in the second half.
I couldn’t help but wish Owen Hargreaves was on the field, despite his having only played one minute of competitive football in over 18 months. Many journalists cited Emile Heskey’s performance as one of the few bright elements of Saturday’s game, yet for me his inclusion seemed solely to serve as an opportunity for the linesmen to prove themselves capable of spotting blatant offsides. There isn’t a single top class centre back who is going to be fooled by lumbering ole Emile, who consistently lingered in stupid positions and made it easy for the average American defence. I’d far sooner have a five man midfield with Gerrard behind Rooney than shackle the entire team to a two-legged donkey. Heskey would not rest comfortably in the starting elevens of many of the other seeded teams. If England are to be touted as potential champions, or even if they wish to be considered as such, Heskey has to go.
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I guess I should probably mention Rob Green, whose nerves may well by now be appropriately likened to shreds of extremely soggy confetti. Most of you reading this will have gasped in slow-motion disbelief as he suffered the worst case of brain freeze since Thomas Brolin was found in the Leeds United kitchen fridge with his face buried in a box of Calippo’s and Opal Fruit ice lollies… Nonetheless, I think he’s a decent goalkeeper who should be given the opportunity to atone for his error against the luminary attacking force known as…Algeria. Hmm.
Check back throughout the World Cup for match reports and analysis from Faris